Explain the Arguments for and Against Strict Liability Offences

Topics: Criminal law, Crime, Mens rea Pages: 4 (1380 words) Published: December 4, 2012
Explain the arguments for and against strict liability offences A strict liability offence is one where it is not necessary for the prosecution to prove any mens rea. In most cases of strict liability even if one did not have the intent to commit a crime, however reasonable, in relation to a particular element of the actus reus of an offence, they can still be convicted. This can be shown in reference to Prince and Hibbert. Prince (1875) the girl was taken by Prince even though he knew she was in the possession of her father as he believed she was 18. Mens rea was needed for him to be sentenced and this was recognized as he had the necessary intention to remove her. Hibbert (1869) the defendant had sexual intercourse with a 14 year old girl in public. He was not guilty as it could not be proved that he was aware that her father had control over her. In strict liability offence, the age would have been an important factor however mens rea could not be proved causing the defendant to be dismissed. The majority of strict liability offences are regulatory offences and are usually created by statute and govern issues such as licensing, road traffic, food safety, pollution and health and safety. Some strict liability offences can lead to a sentencing of imprisonment upon conviction but most of the time many of the offences are relatively minor and are dealt with a penalty, such as a fine. The legislation of strict liability came after the industrial revolution, where certain problems were established from the great economic improvement arising from the increase of population, disease, lower mortality rates and working conditions. New and more accurate laws were needed to make authorities and employers liable for unsafe practices that were not being prosecuted. Liability is derived from the philosophical prospect of ‘utilitarian’, which signifies the greatest benefit to the greatest number. However, this can be contradicted by companies that have been fined, where...

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